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Vedanta Resources deepens tech push with $4 billion India display factory

Anil Agarwal's metals and mining conglomerate is expanding in electronics components to take advantage of India's push to become a technology manufacturing hub

Vedanta

Signage for Vedanta Resources Ltd. is displayed at the company's office building in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, March 6, 2020. Photographer: Kanishka Sonthalia/Bloomberg

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By Sankalp Phartiyal

The newly appointed chief executive officer of Vedanta Resources Ltd.’s untried display business is seeking to hire global talent to build and run a $4 billion factory in western India.
 
YJ Chen, who previously worked at Chinese display maker HKC Corp., said the display venture will soon begin recruiting from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and other regions to set up a liquid crystal display panel fabrication unit in India. The factory will create as many as 3,500 direct jobs, he said.

“We need a lot of technicians, very talented people,” Chen, who has 23 years of experience in the display industry, said in an interview in India’s financial hub of Mumbai. “That’s the biggest challenge — people.”

Even as it’s suffering from a heavy debt load, billionaire Anil Agarwal’s metals and mining conglomerate is expanding in electronics components to take advantage of India’s push to become a technology manufacturing hub. The display business is separate from Vedanta’s struggling chip venture and may find an easier path to success as it’s a less techically demanding undertaking.

Vedanta, which has partnered with Foxconn Group affiliate Innolux Corp. for the display business, plans to manufacture glass and assemble LCD panels at its new factory. The unit could start production toward the end of 2025 if its gets crucial funding from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, Chen said.

Modi has pledged $10 billion to woo chip and display makers to India, promising his administration will bear half the cost of setting up all semiconductor and display fabrication sites. While Vedanta’s chip plans are yet to get government backing, its display business could find it easier to win state incentives with key tech partnerships in place. Vedanta also owns Japan-based AvanStrate, which makes layers used in LCD panels.

Meanwhile, the world’s top display companies are phasing out LCD technology and moving on to sharper OLEDs. The leader in display technology, South Korea’s Samsung Display Co., has ceased LCD production and is pouring billions into making next-generation displays. Its homegrown rival LG Display Co. is similarly scaling down LCD manufacturing.

With its display push, Vedanta is seeking to grab a slice of India’s display market, which it expects to grow to an annual $30 billion over the next seven years. It will have to compete with inexpensive Chinese LCDs and develop newer displays for long-term success.

“We need to build our own supply chain in India,” Chen said. “We will focus on new designs to lower costs, and compete with the Chinese.”

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First Published: Jun 28 2023 | 6:50 AM IST

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